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Who he is: Cardinal Angelo Scola is an Italian cardinal, Archbishop of Milan, and a candidate to be named the next Pope. Speculation is rising that the 71-year-old cardinal is a frontrunner to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who stepped down in February 2013.

His origins: Scola was born November 7, 1941 in Milan. As a young man, he studied philosophy at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and became involved with the university’s Catholic organizations. After graduating and teaching in schools, Scola decided to become a priest and was ordained in 1970. Scola also studied in Switzerland for a doctorate in theology, writing his thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas.

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His career track: Back in Italy, Scola became involved in the Communion and Liberation movement, also followed by Joseph Ratzinger (later Benedict XVI). In 1991, he became Bishop of Grosseto and concentrated on the education of youth and pastoral care of laborers.

After resigning as bishop, Scola served on several pontifical councils before being named Patriarch of Venice and cardinal in 2002. After the death of John Paul II in 2005, he was considered as a candidate for pope. In 2011, Cardinal Angelo Scola was named Archbishop of Milan.

His beliefs: The much-published cardinal has written extensively on marriage, human sexuality, bio-ethics, theology and philosophy. He also founded a journal, “Oasis,” that reaches out to Christians living in the Muslim world.

Why he might be pope: Cardinal Angelo Scola is considered one of the top frontrunners with some experts who believe the church may want to return to an Italian leader.

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